If you snooze you lose, right? Not necessarily! There’s plenty of research out hailing the benefits of the Power Nap. Sara Mednick, a psychologist at the University of California San Diego, says a short power nap will improve your mood, your alertness, and your memory. So here’s some naptime intelligence we found in Newsweek magazine.
- The first secret to a great nap is the length. Experts say to keep your naps somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. That’s just long enough to get the rejuvenating benefit of sleep, without the grogginess that comes with OVER-sleeping - that’s called “sleep inertia.” You should even set an alarm for your naps because if you’re tired enough to fall asleep, chances are you’re tired enough to STAY asleep.
- And what time of day should you take that nap? For most people, the ideal “nap hour” is between 2 and 3 PM. That’s when your body temperature naturally dips, just like it does around bedtime. When your body temperature dips, it makes you feel sleepy. However, if you’ve got an important meeting scheduled, experts say you should plan your nap just before it starts. That way, your mind will be fresh from beginning to end and your eyes won’t start drooping in the middle.
- Drink a cup of coffee BEFORE you nap. The British Transportation Department actually recommends this to all their public bus drivers. Research shows it really does work because that caffeine jolt you get from coffee takes about 20 minutes to kick in. So by the time the caffeine hits your brain, your body’s been tricked into thinking it’s slept, and you’ll jump right up feeling energized instead of groggy. E.R. doctors use that trick all the time, too. A word of caution, though: Stick to taking only ONE short nap per day. If you feel a need for more, it probably means you’re not getting enough sleep at night. So work on getting a full 8 hours of sleep before you worry about where to squeeze in your next half hour siesta.